Now, now, just because the review title is like that, it’s doesn’t necessarily equate to a bad game. On the contrary, Hollow Knight is a great game. Its art, soundtrack, and gameplay are great. Only its story isn’t as strong as the other aspect of the game. And that makes my play through experience in this game to be a hollowed one.
It starts off with a cutscene depicting a vagabond walking towards a small town. Once it’s over, you’ll notice that there isn’t any obvious disparity in the art between the cutscene and gameplay. From that, one can expect a wonderfully crafted world with colours that naturally complement each other. Thus, painting a world in which its current state to be a natural one. From a zone that is dark and too eerie, to another that’s full of lush and green. All of this masterfully crafted zone is accompanied by background music that is unique to each zone. Hence creating, a clear distinction whenever you move from one zone to another.
Welcome to Dirtmouth, the town that’s shown in the cutscene. A small town that’s built on a desolate wasteland atop the ruins of a once prosperous kingdom, Hallownest. At the moment, there’s only an elderbug and a bench available for interaction. From the elderbug you will about the massive ruined kingdom beneath the town and the adventurers that seek it, never return. As you explore the ruined kingdom, you will come across many foes and friendly NPCs some of which is from the town of Dirtmouth. Encountering them result in the opening of new facilities that will be made accessible when you return back to town.
Hollow Knight | Team Cherry
The NPCs are designed adorably with each having their own unique quirks. Among them, the cartographer is the one I find the most interesting. As the name applies, he draws maps and sells them to you, should you wish to purchase. I highly recommend purchasing the map for those who don’t any sense of direction or a good memory of the layout. The map you purchase doesn’t show the entirety of the kingdom, only the current zone you are in. Due to that, the cartographer can found in every zone, so open those ears as you can tell that he is nearby with the sound of his pen scribbling on a piece of paper.
The foes you encountered as you explore the ruined kingdom are just as adorable as the friendly NPCs meet during your exploration. But don’t be fooled by their adorable aesthetic, as some of them are deadly in a fight, from the weakest mob to the zone boss. I got fooled once, thinking that it’s a friendly NPC, but it turns out not to be one and I died. Upon death, you will drop all your Geos, the game term for currency, and you’ll leave behind something like your soul. This soul is being marked on the map if you have the map for the area, and you are able to recover all your drop Geos. Should you be killed once again before defeating your spirit, all the hard earn Geos will disappear. Leaving your true soul to be in despair.
Hollow Knight | Team Cherry
There isn’t any level up system in the game and the means to power up yourself within the game is to either upgrade your weapon or by charms. These charms can be obtained by defeating the zone boss, found by exploring or purchase through a vendor. Each of these charms is unique and some of it affects are stackable.
Hollow Knight is a 2D action platform game with a strong in-depth combat and wonderful art which I find to be kind of like an art gallery. The combat focus on both mobility and timing. It has a strong feedback when striking the foe and getting struck. Pushing you back when your attacks hit the foe and one way to reduce this feedback is through charm if you dislike it. With a complete mastery of timing your attacks, you are able to parry your opponent – those that are wielding a weapon – whenever your weapon and your foes clash together at the same time. Leaving a slight sense of satisfaction upon a successful parry. Alas, most of my parries are through sheer coincidence. But still, it makes me feel good.
Every zone has its own unique mobs and even if it looks similar to the previous zone, it is of a different variant. These variants have their own attack pattern, distinguishing them from their own counterparts. The bosses are both unique and memorable. Their fights require you to be extremely mobile, precise in your strikes and also an opportunist. Should you heal up or throw in a hit or two during that small window of an opening. No two boss fight is the same and requires a different approach for each one of them.
Hollow Knight | Team Cherry
Despite having a strong gameplay and aesthetic, its storytelling department is somewhat lacking. There’s a story to tell amidst the exploration and fighting, but the story itself isn’t clearly seen on the surface. No quest objective or marker is being provided, so it’s hard to make head or tails out of it. Even talking to the NPC only tell you a glimpse of what had transpired within the game. I find myself spending a fair bit of time on the internet searching for its story and a guide on which zone that I need to head to next.
You’re able to explore the ruined kingdom freely with certain areas being accessible after getting a certain move set. Even after you get that move set, there’s a chance you might forget about that earlier area and missed out a key NPC or two. The main reason as to why you might miss them is because of how the map you obtain is being updated. Every time you sit on a bench, your progression is being saved and your map is being updated. The area you traverse will be updated to the map regardless if you have completely walked the entire area or not. Example, I walk to an area, but there’s a boss like mob waiting to be triggered if I walk forward a bit more. So I turn around and continue exploring the other direction. When I took a seat on the bench, my map got updated and indicate that the area which I turn around at to be completely explored. I later found out that I’ve missed a key npc after moving through several different zones.
Hollow Knight is great 2D action platform game with a solid combat and it’s a treat for those that enjoy a great quality art style. The story however, won’t be spoon fed to you.
Platform: PC (Windows, Mac OS, Linux), Nintendo Switch
Publisher: Team Cherry
Developer: Team Cherry
Rating: Great (78 out of 100)
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